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"Getting money is like digging with a needle;
spending it is like water soaking into sand."

Japanese Proverb

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Food Budget Tips - form the UC Berkeley Parents forum

How long could you go without spending any money? Read how someone in England has gotten by without spending any cash in 14 months.

Frugal Tip - Many appliances use electricity even when turned off. The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab has a list of the watts used for by products in stand by mode. You can save money on electricity costs by actually unplugging, and not just turning off, many electrical products.

turning off power stips can be frugal

 

Household Budget Tips

One of my main hobbies has always been to collect books on budgeting, investing and saving money. My hobby has allowed me to be able to be a stay at home mom for almost twenty years, despite living in one of the most expensive areas of the country. I hope you enjoy the frugal living tips I've collected over the years.

Featured Articles:

My Current Project is to have a zero waste home like the Johnson family in this Sunset magazine article. I do not think I will ever get to the point where we truly have zero waste, but we certainly have a lot of room for improvement from where we stand today. Lately I have been thinking hard about just how many disposable products we buy each month that there really is no need to buy. We just buy them because we are so used to advertising that we think using disposable paper towels, tissues and pens is the normal thing to do. While it might be the common way of doing things in the U.S., it is far from being frugal and it creates extra waste for landfills.

Here is my list of alternatives to disposable items and consumer goods. I really like the idea of helping the environment and saving money at the same time.

Consumer Item
 
Green
Alternative
     
1. Paper towels
 
Cellulose sponges and washable cloth towels
     
2. Single use Batteries
 
Rechargeable batteries
     
3. Small juice bottles
 
Lunch juice packed in a washable sports bottle
     
4. Store bought, single use, water bottle   Tap water in a washable sports bottle
     
5. Sandwich bags   BPA free plastic sandwich box
     
6. Disposable pens   Refillable pens
     
7. Disposable mechanical pencils   Refillable mechanical pencils
     
8. Plastic or paper grocery bags   Cloth grocery sacks brought from home to store. Many stores give you a 5 cent a bag credit.
     
9. Wrapping paper   Reusable gift bags
     
10. Christmas cards   A personalized family Christmas newsletter sent via email
     
11. Nonconsumable Christmas gifts   Consumable gifts - chocolate, cookies, bread, nuts, natural soaps, candles, lotion,and lip balms.
     
12. Staples   Reusable paper clips
     
13. Disposable scrubbing pads   Stainless steel scrubbing pads
     
14. Stamped letters   Faxes and email
     
15. Hardcover and paperback books   Borrow books from library or buy ebooks.
     
16. CDs   Download from iTunes
     
17. DVDs   Rent movies and TV shows from library or uses services like Netflix.
     
18. Magazines in the mail   Online web sites and online library subscriptions.
     
19. Fresh Christmas tree   Fake tree we have reused since the 80s
     
20. Checks   Pay bills online
     
21. Plastic wrap   Reuseable storage containers
     
22. Computer paper   Use both sides
     
23. Note paper   Backs of used enevelopes for shopping and errand lists
     
24. Disposable diapers   Cloth diapers
     
25. Cardboard emery boards   Metal nail files

I have to admit I personally haven't quite got the hang of reading books on Kindle yet. As a family we still save money though because I gave my Kindle reader to one of my kids and he uses it regularly. He gets many classic, out of copyright eBooks for free on Amazon.

In past years I used to probably go over the top with gifts for the kids. They are older now and mainly want money, so it makes it easier to have a minimalist Christmas. For this holiday season our kids are each getting money as their main gift, plus one recyclable paper gift bag / stocking substitute each filled with things like ear buds, candy, cookies, movie gift certificates, clothing items, etc.

My frugal husband will be happy with a box of chocolates from a warehouse store and a used book on local bike trails I bought at a library book sale for $1. For people outside the immediate family we are either giving gift certificates or personalized gift baskets filled with consumable items bought at a warehouse or outlet store.

Frugal Thoughts -

The way to wealth is as plain as the way to market. It depends chiefly on two words, industry and frugality: that is, waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without industry and frugality nothing will do, and with them everything.
Benjamin Franklin

The best education in the world is that got by struggling to get a living.
Wendell Phillips

The world has not yet learned the riches of frugality.
Cicero

I have learnt to seek my happiness in limiting my desires, rather than attempting to satisfy them.
John Stuart Mill

There is no dignity quite so impressive and no independence so important as living within your means.
Calvin Coolidge

Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but religiously follows the new.
Henry David Thoreau

Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.
Anne Herbert

 


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